• Understand the basic geography of Yosemite – Glacier Point and The Ahwahnee hotel might look really close on the map – but they are an hour’s drive apart – the Ahwahnee is in Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point is on the top of a mountain. ⛰⛰
  • Altitude Sickness is no joke. Yosemite Valley is at 4,000 feet, Sentinel Dome is at 8,100 feet, Glacier Point is at 7,200 feet and Tioga Pass road is at 10,000 feet. Listen to your body. ??
  • Food options are limited – make dinner reservations in Yosemite Valley restaurants for every night you plan to spend. ??
  • There are no gas stations in Yosemite Valley – have a full tank before entering the park. Assuming you will drive in from San Francisco, the Crane Flat Gas Station is a good place to fill up at. ⛽️⛽️
  • There are limited restrooms in the park – some points of interest do not have a restroom – keep an eye on the map. ??
  • Take a flashlight – it gets very dark after sunset, and there aren’t too many streetlights. Just walking from a parking lot to a restaurant can prove challenging ??
  • Take a dedicated GPS unit or download offline Google Maps. Cell coverage inside the park is limited. ??
  • If you have Bear Spray, take. We saw 2 Bears in 4 days. ??
  • Half Dome California Wheat is a good local beer ??


Day 1: Drive in and Hetch Hetchy

  • Check out Hetch Hetchy dam on the way in to the park. You can park right by the dam at (37.945683, -119.788380) – Meh 2/5
  • Hike Tuolumne Grove Trail. Trailhead parking is at (37.758152, -119.805251). Good 4/5
  • Dinner at the Ahwahnee. The food is expensive and not good. But the restaurant and the hotel Lobby are a Must See 5/5

Day 2: Yosemite Valley

  • Bridalveil Falls – take the short walk to the Bridalveil Falls Viewpoint
  • Swinging Bridge – park at (37.736567, -119.598957)
  • Cook’s Meadow loop trail and Lower Yosemite Falls (1.6 miles, 1 hour)
    • Park at (37.744085, -119.589843) – start the look trail counter-clockwise
    • Lower Yosemite Falls – Hike the Lower Yosemite Fall trail up to Lower Yosemite Fall Vista Point
    • Finish the loop back to the parking lot
  • Lunch at Degnan’s Deli in Yosemite Valley
  • Mirror Lake Trail (2.4 miles, 1 hour, 100 feet elevation change)
    • Park at (37.740412, -119.564104) (if parking lot is full, go back to Curry Village parking lot and take the shuttle to the trailhead)
  • El Capitan Meadow – park roadside at (37.724251, -119.634552) – use your binoculars to look up at El Capitan – see if you can spot any climbers.
  • Valley View – park at (37.717126, -119.662038) – really good photo opportunities here. Must See 5/5
  • Artist Point Trail (5*, 2.5hr, 2.4 miles roundtrip, 500 feet elevation change)
  • Visit Tunnel View around sunset. Must See 5/5
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge Mountain Room – dinner

Day 3 – Taft Point, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point

  • Mariposa Grove – Park at Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza – take shuttle to the trailhead
    • Big Trees Loop: 0.3 miles includes Fallen Monarch
    • Grizzly Giant Loop: 2 miles includes Fallen Monarch, Bachelor & Three Graces, Grizzly Giant, California Tunnel Tree
  • Lunch at the Wawona Hotel Dining RoomMust Do 5/5
  • Sentinel Dome + Taft Point Trail (5.1 miles, 3 hours, 1000 feet elevation change) – Must Do 5/5
    • Sentinel Dome Trailhead parking is at (37.712452, -119.586444)
    • Go right on the Pocono rail toward Sentinel Dome
    • Go up Sentinel dome – great views of Half Dome
    • After coming down the dome, go left to make a loop – toward Roosevelt Point
    • Continue to Taft Point – great views of El Capitan
    • Back to the Sentinel Dome Trailhead
  • Glacier Point – Must See 5/5
    • Parking is at (37.727246, -119.575210)
    • Start the 4-mile Trail – hike for 1 mile out for great views and then return back
    • Walk to Glacier Point – Great views at sunset.
  • Dinner at Ahwahnee

Day 4 – Olmsted Point, Tenaya Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, Mono Lake

  • Olmstead Point – Short hike to the viewpoint. Must See 5/5
  • Walk around Tenaya Lake
  • Lunch at Whoa Nellie Deli
  • Mono Lake – Good 4/5
    • Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center
    • Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
    • Mono Lake – South Tufa Area – Short walk (0.8 miles, 1 hour) – good photo opportunities
  • Tuolumne Meadows Walk (1.5 miles, 45 mins) – Good 4/5
    • Park at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, or roadside at (37.872031, -119.370299)
    • Walk past the Tuolumne Meadows Footbridge – check out Soda Springs and Parsons Memorial Lodge

To-dos for next time

  • 4-mile hike from Glacier Point to the valley
  • Nevada Falls Hike
  • Half Dome climb

Leave a Reply